Xbox chief Phil Spencer has published a letter to explain why the company is buying Activision Blizzard for a whopping $68.7 billion, claiming it wants to deliver “gaming for everyone, everywhere.”
Spencer said the letter aims to address what the deal means for “the industry, and most importantly, for players.” It has been published on the same day that UK competition regulator the CMA raised questions about what it means for Microsoft’s rivals, suggesting the purchase might “harm” competitors like Sony and Nintendo.
In a bid to quell the concerns of consumers and regulators, Spencer said Microsoft will pursue a “principled path” if the deal goes through by allowing major Activision Blizzard franchises like Call of Duty available to release on rival platforms.
“We will pursue a principled path. We’ve heard that this deal might take franchises like Call of Duty away from the places where people currently play them. That’s why, as we’ve said before, we are committed to making the same version of Call of Duty available on PlayStation on the same day the game launches elsewhere,” wrote Spencer, who also confirmed Microsoft intends to bring franchises like Overwatch, Diablo, and Call of Duty to Xbox Game Pass.
“We will continue to enable people to play with each other across platforms and across devices. We know players benefit from this approach because we’ve done it with Minecraft, which continues to be available on multiple platforms and has expanded to even more since Mojang joined Microsoft in 2014.”
Answering the hard questions
The Xbox boss said the company is also committed to letting developers choose how to distribute their games, and will engage with regulators with a spirit of “transparency and openness” as they probe the acquisition and seek to assess how it will change the shape of the game industry should it be completed.
“We respect and welcome the hard questions that are being asked. The gaming industry today is robust and dynamic. Industry leaders, including Tencent and Sony, continue to expand their deep and extensive libraries of games as well as other entertainment brands and franchises, which are enjoyed by players everywhere,” continued Spencer. “We believe that a thorough review will show that the combination of Microsoft and Activision Blizzard will benefit the industry and players.”
Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard deal has raised eyebrows for a number of reasons, with some questioning the decision to purchase a company that’s undergoing a public cultural crisis relating to misconduct and worker’s rights, and others asking what it will mean for competition within the game industry.
Earlier this year, Microsoft addressed some of those concerns by entering into a labor neutrality agreement with Communications Workers of America (CWA) that will allow Activision Blizzard staff to “freely and fairly make a choice about union representation.”
That move prompted the CWA to inform the Federal Trade Commission, which is scrutinizing the deal in the United States, that it will support the purchase going forward.